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Church offers career options for dropouts

Don’t get stuck with traditional cultivation, Bangladeshi youth told

Church offers career options for dropouts
Tribal Catholic dropouts on an excursion during the seminar reporter, Moulvibazar

January 19, 2011

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The Catholic Church in southeastern Sylhet region under Dhaka archdiocese has organized a program to guide Catholic dropouts with alternate careers other than the traditional tea plucking and betel-leaves cultivation. “It’s time to take up some alternative jobs… not just getting stuck with traditional tea laboring and betel-leaves. If you don’t take risks you can’t go further and your tribe can’t develop,” Mohan Sheel, a Hindu, told the gathering. The 30-year-old Sylhet-based Caritas officer said he owed the Church for his studies and job. “As a boy from a tea garden it was difficult to give up the traditional occupation, but I made it,” he said. The Regional Pastoral Council for six predominant tribal parishes engaged 70 young Catholics from various tribes in the career choice orientation on Jan. 14-17 at St. Joseph’s Church in Srimangal of Moulvibazar district. During the lecture, group discussion and excursion programs, participants were encouraged to think about other ways to enhance their living such as growing vegetables, vocational trades and starting small businesses. Some dropouts said the Church’s program have inspired them to venture into new vocations. “All these sessions seem very important to me. My friend and I have already decided to open pig farm with a loan from our credit union,” said 20-year-old James Jetra, a tribal Garo Catholic. Rony Sarker, a Catholic and credit union accountant, said his father was a tea worker. He himself didn’t carry on the occupation. “I couldn’t finish my studies but I joined the credit union. I saved money and made a loan to open a hostel for students,” he said. Meanwhile, Tanshen Sumer, a 24-year-old tribal Khasia Catholic, said “I used to cultivate betel leaves only, now I’m planning to grow vegetables side by side.” According to local Church sources, Catholic parishes in Srimangal, Sylhet, Mugaipar, Lakshipur, Jafflong and Borolekha have over 16,000 Catholics from about 15 ethnic tribal groups. There are 400,000 Catholics in Bangladesh, with half belonging to various ethnic tribal groups, as stated in the 2007 Catholic Directory. Related reports Christ the King feast unifies Khasia tribals Activists support tribals’ fight against tree cutting Prayer brings tribal Catholics and Presbyterians together BA12897.1637
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